March 10, 2016

Behind the artifacts

BY ALYSSA MEIER
Editor

The doors were locked, and the sun had gone down, but things were stirring inside the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center on Friday night.

No, the artifacts weren’t coming to life, at least not any more than they usually do. But a few staff members had stayed after hours and welcomed in guests to tour the Interpretive Center and get a look at some pieces that are in storage, as well as all of ways that they protect and display the historical items at the center.

The tour started in the basement, where thousands of artifacts lined walls, shelves and drawers. The six members of the tour followed Interpretive Coordinator Roberts Hanna and site supervisor Kevin Kirkey into the significantly-chillier room, and listened as they explained the importance of that temperature change.

"Typically to preserve the majority of artifacts, you want a temperature that’s very cool. In an exhibit area, about 68 to 70 degrees. In here, about 60 degrees," Kirkey said.

Humidity throughout the entire building is also closely monitored. Even the bulbs in the storage room have special filters over them to help protect the pieces in the room from the harsh lighting. The room also is protected in case a fire breaks out.

"This room has a 3-hour fire rating," Kirkey said. "Three-hour fire ratings are very rare. About the only place in North Dakota where you’ll find a 3-hour fire-rated room would be the Heritage Center and a bank."


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